U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL,10) has gained the endorsement of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM), the nonpartisan membership organization announced Wednesday.
"We're endorsing Congressman Brad Schneider for re-election to the House of Representatives, and we're doing so on behalf of our membership, and we're doing so because of his commitment to protecting Social Security and Medicare," NCPSSM's President and CEO Max Richtman said on a conference call Wednesday.
Schneider, of Deerfield, said he is "so grateful" and "honored" to have the endorsement of the Washington, D.C.-based NCPSSM, which represents nearly 4 million members nationwide, including about 5,000 in the state's 10th congressional district.
"The decisions we make in Congress today matter to these people [who depend on Medicare and Social Security], because it has an impact on their everyday existence," the congressman said. "We cannot address our fiscal imbalance by putting the burden on those who struggle the most. We have to address it, but we can't do it in a way that disadvantages our seniors, breaks our promises and flies in the face of our values by ending the Medicare guarantee or weakening Social Security."
The nationally-watched 10th congressional district race pits the incumbent Democrat against Republican Bob Dold, a former one-term congressman who Schneider unseated back in 2012.
Richtman noted the striking difference between Schneider and Dold's voting record on Medicare and Social Security matters. Dold, Richtman said, "voted wrong every time" on issues important to seniors during his single term in Congress.
Dold voted twice while in Congress for a fiscal blueprint drafted by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI,1) that "would have ended the Medicare guarantee," Schneider added. The incumbent congressman, on the other hand, has voted twice against the same Ryan budget when it has been brought to the House floor and "will continue to vote against any efforts to take away the Medicare guarantee."
Schneider said his Republican opponent is in favor of "raising the retirement age for our seniors."
"The idea of raising the age on these people who are working hard and depending upon Social Security and Medicare in their retirement is, to me, just unfathomable," Schneider stressed.
During his first bid for the 10th congressional seat in 2012, Schneider met with NCPSSM's political action committee board and "was very clear in what his commitment was for protecting Social Security and Medicare," Richtman said. "Congressman Schneider has shown through his votes and the bills he has supported that he'll live up to what he told us two years ago."
While in Congress, Schneider has pushed for legislation that, among other things, "would develop a fair, more accurate" cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security, Richtman said. Schneider also opposed efforts to repeal Medicare provisions in the Affordable Care Act and has crafted legislation designed to make it easier for seniors on Medicare to get coverage for skilled nursing facility care, Richtman added. The Democratic congressman is also backing a bipartisan measure seeking to repeal limits on Medicare outpatient rehabilitation services.
U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL,9), who co-chairs the House Democratic Caucus Seniors Task Force, applauded NCPSSM's decision to throw its weight behind Schneider's re-election campaign. As a member of the Seniors Task Force, Schneider is working to advance the group's mission of promoting polices to improve the health and well-being of seniors, Schakowsky said.
"The very notion that we would do anything to weaken Medicare or Social Security is simply out the question," the congresswoman added. "Older Americans in the 10th congressional district [and] those who care for older Americans ... need to be attentive to the difference between the on-the-record votes between Brad Schneider and Bob Dold — and there is no real comparison."
In Illinois, the NCPSSM has also officially endorsed Ann Callis, the Democratic candidate running in the state's 13th congressional district. Callis, a former Madison County judge, is challening incumbent Republican Congressman Rodney Davis. The group will likely make other 2014 midterm election endorsements in Illinois after Labor Day, Richtman said.